In search of saprophytes
by Nancy Pezel, 24 June 2017.
Walter Kubany and his wife Sally led an enthusiastic group of 14 naturalists on a hunt for saprophytes along the trails of Valentine Mountain on this beautiful summer day.
We learned that many of these plants live on dead and decaying vegetation, but some like the Indian-pipes and Groundcones are parasitic on other plants. They don’t have green leaves and chlorophyll, but interestingly some of them are in the winter-green family. Because these unusual plants don’t seem to be very long lived, we were lucky to find some striking Candysticks in full bloom, a few Coralroots of varying shades of orange and purple, and a Pinesap.
Without Walter’s keen eye we would have missed the white Indian-pipe that was just emerging from the soil at the edge of the trail and some delicate orchids off the main trail. For any of the saprophytes that were already finished flowering or hadn’t emerged yet, Sally and Walter had beautiful photos so we would know what to look for on future walks!